The endangered California condor is getting some help from researchers using new 3-D technology aimed to track their movements in the wild, says new research.
A team including researchers from the US Geological Survey (USGS) and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research has developed a novel methodology that, for the first time, combines 3-D and advanced range estimator technologies to provide highly detailed data on the range and movements of terrestrial, aquatic, and avian wildlife species. One aspect of the study focused on learning more about the range and movements of the California condor using miniaturized GPS biotelemetry units attached to every condor released into the wild.
"We have been calculating home ranges for the tracked condors in three dimensions for the first time using this GPS location data, and our novel density estimator was used to incorporate the vertical component of animal movements into projections of space-use," James Sheppard, a researcher involved in the study, said in a statement.
California condors, native to the mountains of California and Mexico, now total approximately 400 birds, up from only 22 in the mid-1980s. But now that their population numbers have risen, scientists are having a hard time reintroducing them to their natural habitat due to a lack of understanding about their movement patterns and habitat use.
"This data will be used as a predictive management tool to inform conservation efforts to restore condor populations, particularly with regard to emerging threats such as climate change and wind energy impacts," Sheppard added.
Aside from the California condor, researchers tracked giant pandas and dugongs, a large marine animal somewhat similar to the manatee, and created detailed visuals of their whereabouts - offering a novel way to boost conservation efforts.
Though past efforts have been hampered by lack of data, one group already has plans to bring the condor back to California. The Yurok Tribe conservation group has been granted permission to return the great-winged California condor to its native lands of the Redwood Coast, Nature World News reported in April - a plan they will follow through on in the next one to three years.
The study's findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE.
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